07/01/2020- By an overwhelming margin, Marinette County’s Board of Supervisors supports a cost of living adjustment to county employees in 2021 despite the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The Administrative Committee forwarded the topic on to the full county board with no recommendation as to whether or not to grant a cost of living increase in the upcoming budget as well as advance all employees rated below market level one step. That cost of living adjustment is typically based on the previous two years’ Consumer Price Index, which County Administrator John Lefebvre says has fallen considerably over the past few months. Lefebvre suggested withholding the cost of living increase for county staff in the upcoming year in the wake of nationwide economic fallout, but County Board Chairman John Guarisco is in favor of the adjustment, saying if the County’s going to spend money on anything, it should be their employees.
However, Supervisor Rick Polzin opposes the increase. He says it’s not about proving whether or not the County values their employees, but rather, about taking a conservative approach to budgeting amidst so many unknowns.
Ultimately the board voted 23 to 5 with one abstention to approve the 2021 wage package with both the step advancement for those below market and a 1.35% cost of living adjustment. The County’s psychiatrist is not included in the overall wage plan and the board also approved a 2.3% cost of living increase for that individual in accordance with the County’s policy. In total, Marinette County will spend about an additional $557000 on wages in 2021.